Yet even in a web 2.0 world, one can and must ask the question, are we making the most of it all? Are the technological advancements we have made over the last decades merely different manifestations of the seemingly irreversible vice of social inequality or do they actually constitute a foundation upon which a brighter future can be built?
It seems that, as Hans Rosling and his son Ola assure us in their TED talk from Berlin, the world is moving in the right direction, with progress being made in the fight against poverty and inequality, contrary to popular belief. The question remains though, is enough progress being made to counterbalance the debilitating effects of the global population growth and the consequent pressure on natural resources?
Advancements in web 2.0 have broken the boundaries of what we previously thought was possible with web 1.0. Technologies like Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, YouTube and other user-driven sites having turned the tables on traditionally top-heavy (often agenda-driven) content production. The result of this has meant that many have been empowered with the tools to document and consume content at their own will. The true power of this sudden demonopolization of information can hardly be overestimated – perhaps best exemplified in the Arab Spring, when social media played a significant role in the uprising of various populations against oppressive regimes.
Whilst we stand in awe of the power of web 2.0, it is important that we don’t forget to address the privacy violation issues that seem to go hand in hand with it, with Facebook clicks being mapped to chart profiles for advertisers, the NSA spying on millions and hackers stealing our identities for purposes that one would rather not contemplate.
Moreover, sites like YouTube can both empower the downtrodden and helpless as well as act as a frontier for the transmission of hatred and terror propelled by far-fetched extremists after blood and gore, a scenario that we have seen unfold all too dramatically of late. In similar vein, Wikipedia, another web 2.0 platform, can just as easily enrich the general public with irreplaceable subject knowledge from varied sources as it can produce erroneous, unsubstantiated information. There is a double-edged sword effect which holds true of many of today’s technologies, many of which constitute the nascent phase of web 2.0.
What does this imply? Well, for one thing, increased global interconnectedness connotes perceivably easier communication opportunities across the board. Easier opportunities for individual content production and consumption in turn can create empowerment amongst social classes excluded from the narrative of society. Consequently, this can help tip the inequalities in income, capital and education that our world continues to suffer from.
Moves towards a global culture of collaboration are being made through, amongst other things, web 2.0. The importance of this is in an increasingly shared world whose resources per capita are diminishing whilst the global population continues to rise, cannot be overstated.
TEDxKEA has burning dreams and realistic desires of making the voices of tech and web developers with creative ideas heard, promoting a culture of collaboration in our societies. Nowhere are the opportunities that our technology brings us more evident than in our schools and universities, where we are surrounded by an avalanche of windows at our disposal to aid us with our learning and academic formation. Equally, we live in a world that is replete with tech-aided opportunities, particularly in the developed world. It is time to take advantage of this world of possibilities. Join TEDxKEA in shaping a more sustainable future.